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5 Steps to Personal Responsibility

You don’t have personal responsibility for your teen’s life!

They do. Their life is their life and it is up to them to create a life worth living. I know this sounds crazy and you are right, it would be crazy to let your teen make all of their own decisions. Or would it? How long do you want to be making decisions for your teen? Hopefully you are tired of always having to say, “No” or “Maybe” or “We’ll see” and are ready and willing to try a radical approach to teaching your teen personal responsibility.

1.  Take personal responsibility.

That’s right, you start with yourself. What are you thinking right now about your teen? Do your thoughts support or undermine your teens growth? Your feelings stem from your thoughts so if you are thinking negatively about your teen, then you will have anxious, fearful feelings Your behavior results from what you are thinking and feeling; therefore, if you are thinking negatively about your teen and you are anxious or fearful for your teen, then you actions will confirm it. Your teen will interpret this as a lack of faith or trust in their ability to manage their lives.

2.  Hold your teen accountable.

Your teenager needs to learn personal responsibility more than ever. People who assume personal responsibility for their lives live a much richer, more rewarding, abundant and happy life. Your teen deserves that right? Ask yourself one question:

Who’s problem is this?

If the problem your teen is currently experiencing a result of your actions or is it a result of their actions? If your actions were involved, then refer to Step 1. If the problem arose as a result of their actions, then listen attentively, but make no attempt to solve the problem, even if your teen begs you to do something about it. It’s their problem, let them work on it. Your role is that of a consultant. If asked, share a similar dilemma of your own and how you handled it. Most importantly, it is important that the work out the solutions, even if it is a struggle for them.

3.   Follow the discussion.

Most parents get caught up in leading their discussions with their teens. They do this with the best of intentions and with little understanding of its negative effect on communication with their teen. Patents lead these talks with questions specifically designed to draw their teen into the parent’s solution. If you do this, your teen knows it and may already be limiting how much they share with you. When you follow the conversation with your teen, you open a door to understanding of how they problem solve.

How do you follow the discussion?

Following the discussion is easier than you think. Take these simple steps and you will following the discussion before you know it.

a.  Listen to Understand

b.  Ask Open Ended Questions (How did that happen?)

c.  Base Questions on the Last Statement Made

d.  Repeat as necessary

4.  Love Your Teen Unconditionally.

Socrates is known to have said “Those who are hardest to love need it the most.” This proves he must have had teenagers. Love is not only the energy that is going to unite you and your teen, love is going to smooth out the path for both you and your teen. With love, everything is better. If you don’t believe me then try it for a month, a week, a day or an hour at a time. Sometimes its hard to be loving even for a minute at a time. Don’t be discourage and practice consciously loving you teen in a private way. They will feel your love and it will ease their anxiety and worry about the future.

5.  Use Your Imagination.

The more you take personal responsibility the easier it is to see how your imagination plays a big role in how you think, feel and eventually act. Watch your imagination as you go about your day-to-day business. Where does it wander off to? What dominates your imagination? Are you imagining conversations where you emerge the victor in your mind? Are you imagining doom and gloom surrounding you and your family?

You have control over what you imagine. You do it all the time. Suddenly you notice that you’ve been day-dreaming and you bring your mind back to where you are in the present moment. This means you can choose what you imagine and I recommend you imagine NOTHING…..but SUCCESS, HAPPINESS, ABUNDANCE AND JOY for your teen. Imagine them surprising themselves with how well the did on that math test. Imagine them graduating and moving on to their new lives.

Don’t clutter up your imaginings with images of doom and gloom. Don’t run those videos of your teen crashing and burning. Throw those away and keep only the mental videos that represent the best of all possibilities. It’s easy, all you have to do is practice these 5 Steps to Personal Responsibility and before you know it, your teen will emerge from this stage and enter adulthood confident and resourceful. What more can you ask for?

About Ray

I was raised in a small town in Michigan. I was the middle child of 3 boys in a moderately dysfunctional family. I was fortunate to fall into the Hero role hat afforded me the very best that my family could provide. As a hero child, I was the first to go to college. College opened my eyes and my mind. College also turned out to be the bane of my family. To make along story short, at 38 years old and a new social worker, I learned of the dark secrets my family held. The more I reached out to help the family, the more the pushed me away until, I could not longer have contact with any family members. It's been nearly 30 years now. It's just better that way. As a result, I've focused my career on helping families, especially families with teenagers. I've always worked with teens, since I was 19 years-old I've worked with teens as a teacher, counselor, social worker and psychotherapist. I am still passionate about working with teens and their families, but am focused on working with large groups with multiple families in attendance. Part of my desire to accomplish on this website is to create a place for discussion of families, adolescents, their ever present angst. I want to share with parents of teens some of what the wisdom I've gained from 30 years of working with teenagers and their families. Please visit for awhile. Read some articles, make some comments or share a post with your friends or colleagues. I'm at your service.

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